Law \ Legal

It’s Time For Our Elders To Make Way For The New Generation’s Leadership

Classic double-barreled gun with vertical trunksLiz Cheney and I don’t have much in common; she’s a conservative Republican from Wyoming and I am a middle-of-the-road Democrat in La-La Land. But in her speech at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley on June 29 (available on YouTube), she gave voice to what many women have said throughout history and is true to this day. Men have been running the world and “it’s really not going that well.” I think every woman can relate, regardless of political persuasion.

Cheney said it is now up to young women to accept power and responsibility. You may disagree with her politics, but you can’t deny the truth of what she said. We dinosaurs must make way for younger women (and men) to take leadership roles. Gerontocracy, defined as a society (government, or whatever) governed by old people, is where this country is today. As much as I admire California’s senior senator, Dianne Feinstein, it’s time for her at 89 to step down. And as much as I admire Speaker Nancy Pelosi, at 82, she may be out of a job anyway if the Republicans retake the House in November as some prognosticators are saying.

My comments are not limited to Democratic women: Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is 80, and Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma is 87. And I am starting to think that the idea of term limits for Supreme Court justices is a conversation to have.

When John Kennedy became president in January 1961, he was the first one born in the 20th century. The physical contrast between his youth and vigor and that of the outgoing President Dwight Eisenhower was striking. It heralded a new era. His words about “passing the torch to a new generation of Americans” are just as apt today as they were more than 60 years ago.

Am I discriminating against dinosaurs? Since I am one, that gives me leeway to say so. It’s not age that necessarily defines a person’s mental and physical abilities, but I wonder how younger people are going to be able to take on leadership roles unless they do so, wresting positions from those one or two generations older. Succession planning is not just for law firms and corporate legal departments, not just for organizations big and small, profit-making and those not for profit. It may not be called “succession planning” in politics and government, but it’s just as important as in any other environment, even more so.

How else are younger women, be they lawyers, physicians, neuroscientists, and so on ever going to succeed to positions of power and influence unless and until old folks move on? It’s not a matter of shoving the dinosaurs aside, although some might like that (remember that old folks have brittle bones), but more a matter of easing oldsters out with dignity and respect while the “youngsters” or at least comparatively so, have opportunities now. Relinquishing power is hard. (Do I need to mention January 6, 2021, as Exhibit A for that proposition?)

Olga Mack has some leadership tips, and while they apply equally to both women and men, often, it’s women who need encouragement to go for it. We are often hesitant, not encouraged to take whatever that next step may be, but if not now, when, and if not you, then who? Will Dobbs make it more difficult for women to succeed? We’ll have to wait and see, but my Magic 8 Ball says, “without a doubt.” Swell.

Ever wonder why there are few, if any, women mass shooters? Just asking. It’s July 7 and this country has had more mass shootings so far this year than the number of days since January 1. Not a pretty statistic and not a happy birthday for our country.

I grew up in Glencoe, the village directly south of Highland Park, right along Lake Michigan. As a kid, I walked in the Glencoe 4th of July parade. I am horrified but I shouldn’t be, that this act of domestic terror occurred in my childhood backyard. These shootings are now everywhere. We can run, but we can’t hide from what is happening all around us.

Highland Park is small-town USA and its 4th of July parade exemplified that. The flags, the chairs set out along the route, the strollers, the coolers. It should have been a day of celebration, especially since it was the first since the pandemic shut everything and everyone down for two years. Everyone needs to read this first-person account by Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times who was there, not as a reporter, but as a citizen looking to enjoy the holiday. And I am now all for showing gruesome photos of how an AR-15 rifle eviscerates its victims. Maybe that will help focus discussions.

Highland Park now joins the list of so many other cities and towns forever changed, so many schools and nightclubs, places of worship, grocery stores, and all the other places that compose our routines. A celebration of this country’s enduring existence, albeit shaky these days, the Highland Park 4th of July becomes yet another American tragedy. Soon, there will be no one in this country untouched in some way by gun violence. Not something we should take pride in nor anything we should celebrate.

old lady lawyer elderly woman grandmother grandma laptop computerJill Switzer has been an active member of the State Bar of California for over 40 years. She remembers practicing law in a kinder, gentler time. She’s had a diverse legal career, including stints as a deputy district attorney, a solo practice, and several senior in-house gigs. She now mediates full-time, which gives her the opportunity to see dinosaurs, millennials, and those in-between interact — it’s not always civil. You can reach her by email at [email protected].

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